"Enough is enough", "We want freedom not fear-dom", "Don't tell me how to dress, tell your son not to rape."
Nearly 400 youth from Amritsar used these strong words as slogans to express their outrage against the gangrape of a 23-year-old student in Delhi as they participated in a candlelight march on Thursday.
A student group, "Being's Helping Hands", which includes students of five engineering colleges of the city, organised the march in association with the International Human Rights Organisation.
The boys and girls who participated in the march registered their protest against cases of rape as well as the recent murder of an ASI in Amritsar.
Holding placards with strong messages and raising slogans, the students marched from DAV Public School on the Lawrence Road and, after passing through various parts of the city, the procession culminated at Company Bagh, where the participants lit candles.
While addressing a gathering of students at Company Bagh, Pratibha Malhotra Panghal, a teacher from DAV Public School, said, "The mentality of rape is not due to any external factors, but it is the inner animal which has outraged its own modesty and values. Those who are responsible for such incidents are inhuman because a human being cannot do anything as barbaric as this."
The organisers had made the announcement of candlelight march on social networking site Facebook and pamphlets regarding the event were distributed in various schools and colleges of the city.
Students and teachers from DAV Public School, Government Medical College, BBK DAV College for Women, Sri Guru Harkrishan Public School and Amritsar College of Engineering and Technology participated in the march.
"Reduce security for VIPs and provide more security to us," demanded the girls who participated in the protest. Jasmine, a BTech student of Khalsa College and a member of the student group, said, "Girls are scared to go out. The Delhi gangrape incident is an example of how insecure women are in our country."
Gobind Pal Singh, a young owner of a travel company in the city, said, "Two years back we might have been able to gather just 10 or 20 people, but today the number is above 400. It shows the rising awareness among people."
At the spot where the crowd was raising slogans demanding that the perpetrators of rape should be hanged, he said in a speech, "We are in a democratic country. Taking law in our hands will deteriorate matters and create conditions akin to Middle East nations. Since we are part of the system, we ourselves need to change. The change has to come from us."
He said he was of the view that death penalty would not be a solution to the problem. "There should be some other punishment to set an example and trigger the fear of law in the minds of criminals," he suggested.
The participants also highlighted the need for self-defence training for girls in schools. They suggested that girls should carry pepper sprays in their bags and approach the police the moment they are subjected to sexual abuse. They also demanded that the government should induct more women in the police force.
A ready platform
Social networking sites have given a new platform to the youth to express their anger over such incidents. Now the outrage is not just restricted to marches, but has reached every house through exchanges on social networking sites.
Social networking sites are flooded with posts expressing outrage against the "Delhi rape shame". Causes.com has put up an online petition demanding death penalty for rape convicts. More than 2.5 lakh people have signed this petition already. The online petition has been filed by Namitha Bhandare, a Hindustan Times journalist, to President Pranab Mukherjee.
Many Facebook users have changed their profile picture to a black dot to convey how shameful the incident was. Everyone wants the judiciary to give exemplary punishment to the culprits.